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Mobilizing the Workforce—No, Really

It’s almost Summer—the season of road trips. And recently I had the privilege of driving across the country. While some might fear loss of productivity with a trip like that, I was actually able to work quite productively, mile after mile—thanks to a WiFi hotspot, Cisco’s VPN, and a laptop charger that plugged into the cigarette lighter. Of course, it helped having someone else do the driving. From Oakland, California to New York City, I participated in Webex meetings, wrote and edited documents, and generally got stuff done. But enough about me.

In Salt Lake City, I met up with kindred spirit Mike Sumsion, chief information officer for iTransact, which helps businesses accept customer payments via credit, debit, and gift cards, as well as electronic checks. “I’ve spent the last 10 years making sure our company could be productive from anywhere,” said Mike. Clearly, he’s one who likes to stay ahead of the curve: A blog post from last month cited a Cisco report that said 46 percent of people surveyed expect to be able to access their corporate network from their personal mobile devices.

Mike’s company employs 50 people. While it keeps customer service employees onsite, sales people can work from home with their same IP office phones and computers that they use in their cubicles. The company is also looking to extend this flexibility to other employees.

In a nutshell, iTransact offers services that let merchants accept transactions without a lot of heavy lifting.  Its service is offered directly to customers and their trusted advisors, like accounting firms, banks, and others. A dashboard interface lets them log in to check on the status of accounts billable, as well as manage real-time interactions remotely.

Given the sensitivity of the information that’s exchanged with each transaction, iTransact’s top concerns are compliance and security. So when it comes to working in the Cloud, things are still evolving. As an interim measure, the company uses Dropbox to make sure employees have updated documentation to share with everyone in real time. Each new employee is set up with a Dropbox account, providing instant access to all necessary documents for his/her role. Since Dropbox is Cloud based, employees who are traveling or working remotely can access the documents from wherever. Plus, it simplifies the information management. Even though the document repositories are managed by a single individual, all employees receive instantaneous updates.

Looking ahead, iTransact does see more Clouds on the horizon. “We’re building a gateway 2.0. that will absolutely use the Cloud. We’ll be able to drop a node anywhere in the world, fire up a virtual machine and have it accept transactions,” notes Mike. “We’ll be able to scale geographically, and offload geographically as needed, to the server that makes most sense,” he adds. And the icing on the cake: All the databases and self-contained software will allow for 100% uptime. This becomes especially important as they cater to smaller businesses, with transactions and updates happening constantly.

So what does a fast-moving small business see for its future? “It’ll be more mobile,” says Mike, without hesitating. “Look around you—increasingly, anyone can buy anything from anyone at any time. We need to manage the data, accordingly. The dashboard we built—that will become a mobile app; our internal employees will update records via their phones and customers’ transaction processes will become more mobile than they are now,” he adds.

Amen to that. As one who thrives on traveling—and getting stuff done regardless of where I am and regardless of whether I’m a customer or an employee—I think the future looks absolutely sunny. With a few clouds, of course.

To learn more about how Cisco can help your small business, click here.

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With VPLEX and OTV, Cisco, EMC and VCE change the Mobility and Disaster Recovery Game (Part2)

June 11, 2012 at 10:00 am PST

Today, Cisco Live “World of Solutions ” (the show floor) opens at 4:30 pm PDT  in San Diego Convention Center.  One of the marquis demos has been shown at EMC World with a lot of interest.

This blog is the second part of a two part blog dedicated to this Mobility and Business Continuance demo, created by Cisco, EMC and VCE.  In part 1 (read blog here) I invited EMC Colin Durocher (@OtherColin) to share with us his perspective on the demo.  As promised,  I come back today with more details on the demo,  including a video interview conducted by Cisco Daniel Bogda (@dabogda) with EMC Craig Chapman (@VirtualChappy)  and VCE Tom Chatham (@tchatham).  I asked also Tom, who already wrote here, to bring  his  perspective on the demo.

Tom Chatham is a Principal vArchitect with VCE Corporate Engineering responsible for delivering VCE solutions, customer solution testing, technical marketing events and evangelizing private cloud. 16 years of experience in the industry, most of that time spent focused on storage, virtualization and unified computing. Including extensive network infrastructure, systems architecture and business continuity.

“VCE is excited to kick things off this week at CiscoLive! Between our big booth, speaking sessions, and demos we’ve got a ton to talk about (www.vce.com/events/cisco-live).
Like we did at EMC World,  for this year’s  CiscoLive! show VCE wanted to kick it up a notch with LIVE demonstrations of all the cool technologies we have at our fingertips.

Daniel Bogda, Craig Chapman, Tom Chatham

We have a number of VblockTM Systems going to Cisco Live! (and VMworld in August) so it made perfect sense to show off our Workload Mobility Solution. Besides, isn’t cloud all about the ability to offer services from anywhere?

We have three Vblock 300 systems located in the VCE, EMC and Cisco booths. An additional network aggregation rack has been added to each Vblock system to house Nexus 7010 switches, EMC RecoverPoint appliances and EMC VPLEX engines. Panduit provided 1000 feet of fiber trunk cable containing 6 pair of fiber, which has been hung from the ceiling between booths.

The Nexus 7010 switches are providing our core network services, making each booth it’s own data center. RecoverPoint and VMware Site Recovery Manager are handling traditional long haul disaster recovery. VPLEX Metro is providing Active-Active storage clustering capabilities. This is the ability to stretch a VMware vSphere cluster between two sites today, and up to four in the future.  VPLEX Metro provides storage array block level LUN consistency and data availability while OTV on the Nexus 7000 series switches provide layer 2 network services.

Diagram: VCE Vblock WLM plan for CiscoLive!

Let’s take a step back for a moment and look at what makes this “cool”. Traditionally, migrating data and applications in or between data centers involves manual steps and data copies, where IT would either make physical backups or use data replication services to handle getting the data from side A to side B.

Read More »

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Welcome to the New Normal

The 2012 Olympics are just weeks away and NBCOlympics.com has pledged to live stream every event and sport for the first time ever — more than 3500 total programming hours, all viewable from your tablet or smartphone.

While watching the Olympics, you’ll be able to view instant replays, send highlight videos to your friends, tweet on the latest play action, check stats…in short, enjoy a rich multimedia Olympics experience over the mobile network.

Welcome to the new normal.

Want to control the camera angles as you watch your favorite basketball team? This season, Read More »

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The Internet Has Gone Mobile

The other day, I raced out of my office on my way to the airport and traffic was a mess. I realized I had not left enough buffer time to get to the airport and check in before running to security. Well, sitting in the taxi, I reached for my smartphone, went online and checked-in to save myself the check-in line at the airport. I managed to make my flight, albeit a little more stressed than usual.

I sat on the plane and reached for my laptop only to realize I left it at my desk. What a disaster! Well, not quite, I happened to have my tablet and smartphone with me -- enough to do my work while I traveled to visit a customer. This wouldn’t have been an option five years ago and it became very clear to me at that moment that the Internet has gone completely mobile.

We all need and want to be connected constantly, using whatever device we choose and want to do more of our work and personal activities wherever and whenever we want.  Having multiple devices with many applications has truly become what we like to call the “new normal.” As would be expected, this new normal brings a substantial change to mobile networks and all of this poses significant opportunities and challenges for our service provider customers.

Operators must build core networks with Read More »

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CiscoLive! San Diego: Time to get your BYOD on!

 

I’m relatively new to Cisco, and only 7 months with the Mobility Solutions team. That means I get a lot of great “firsts” to experience, and those terrific “ah ha” moments that sear through my brain as I learn something new each day. And one of those “firsts” is CiscoLive! I’ve been intimately involved in making it all come together for our Mobility Solutions team. So I know what to expect at CiscoLive!, and yet, I really don’t know what to expect.

 

With our planning and preparation for these five days in San Diego, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of great people and expand my network here within Cisco. The big “ah ha” through this process has been the discovery of Cisco’s pervasive and unequivocal customer-focused culture. It hasn’t mattered who I’ve work with, the overarching end goal for all of us is providing the right solutions to our customers, and making every customer feel as though they are Cisco’s only customer . It also helps that our mobility solutions are the broadest and deepest in the industry, as well as the most innovative. We like to say we are going “Beyond BYOD” – a complete solution that delivers one policy, one network and one management and ensures the best, most optimal user experience. Yes, it’s a marketing message, but it’s the truth.

 

We are going to prove that to you this coming week in San Diego. You’ll be seeing, learning and talking a lot about our how our mobility solutions really do go Beyond BYOD. A quick run-down by the numbers will give you a preview of how we will show you: 11 Mobility business-focused presentations, including a customer panel discussion on their Cisco BYOD implementations and experiences; 16 technical sessions covering everything from RF Fundamentals to Branch office WLAN design; and 2 all-day TechTorial seminars. You’ll also need to carve out some time to visit our booth (#850), because we’ve got product demonstrations that show how easy it is to set user and device policies using Cisco ISE, Cisco’s CleanAir and Client Link in action on our Aironet Access Point 3600 (in addition to some new features), and our Prime Infrastructure management solution.  I’m purposely vague about the demonstrations because we all want you in the booth to see them for yourselves. A couple of videos here and here will give you a preview.

 

We will also have a few things that will tease your brain and give you some laughs too. We’ll have a caricature artist available for a few hours on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to draw your portrait, digitally of course, showing you in your “ultimate wireless experience”. And, we on the mobility team are never without giving you some sort of challenge! If you want to study-up in advance, you’ll find the answers to our challenge questions (which will be available at the booth), when you watch “Fundamentals of Spatial Streams”. With only 7 minutes of great information, it’s far less than you’d spend waiting in an Apple Store to buy an iPad. Yes, get the questions right and you’ll have a chance to win one on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. And of course, there are great expo floor receptions planned on Monday and Tuesday, and Cisco’s customer appreciation event on Wednesday evening in addition to other opportunities to have fun.

 

Lastly, we have three meeting rooms with some private product previews. You should check with your sales rep to find out more and book an appointment, or three.

 

Even though it’s my first CiscoLive!, I do recommend wearing comfortable shoes that help you get from one technical session to another, or to a customer panel discussion, or to our booth to see our latest product demonstrations and talk with our wireless experts. So whether this is your first CiscoLive! or not, you’ll have plenty of “ah-ha” moments throughout the week! I know I will! See you in San Diego.

 

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